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ORLANDO-Colonial Properties Trust’s $200 million Colonial Town Park in the competitive suburban Lake Mary-Heathrow submarket will be breaking ground early next year on the first 225,000-sf retail phase in the 175-acre mixed-use development.

Also surfacing in April will be the Birmingham, AL-based REIT’s five-story, 155,000-sf office building. No leases have been announced to date. The site at County Road 46A and Interstate 4 is 25 miles north of Downtown Orlando. The REIT’s ambitious construction plans for the rest of 2001 and 2002 are to complete some of the 450 planned apartment units and start on a portion of the 420 planned hotel rooms.

Colonial sees a niche in new office development despite third-quarter vacancies of 12.4% in the Lake Mary/Heathrow/Sanford submarket. There was 463,240 sf of new office under construction in the third quarter, according to Grubb & Ellis Co. Net absorption was 83,408 sf for the quarter and 323,180 sf for the nine-month period. The submarket has a total 3.37 million active sf.

The REIT’s long-range plan is to house 1.1 million sf of office within Colonial Town Park. Crescent Resources Inc. of Raleigh, NC and Pizzuti Development Co. of Columbus, OH are major players on this submarket’s office development turf and will compete headon with Colonial on some of the buildings. Class A asking average rents are $19.78 per sf; class B, $15.81 per sf.

Tom Green, president of Colonial’s Florida division, is optimistic on the project’s success, largely because of an improved state and county road network planned through the park and in the venture’s immediate vicinity. For example, International Parkway, which slices the project, will turn northward to State Road 46 by spring. That road will link Lake Mary Boulevard on the south with State Road 46 on the north. The Central Florida GreeneWay is also being extended west to link with Interstate 4 by 2002.

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